Old Tenets of Evolutionary Biology Touted as New An article titled "Scientist proposes new theory of aging" proposes old evolutionary biology theory as new information. It labels longevity beyond reproductive years as a sort of paradox because old evolutionary theory holds that as fertility declines, mortality increases. According to Michael Rose, the ultimate cause of aging "is the declining force of natural selection with age." (Evolutionary Biology of aging, p. 16) Evolution is thought to make a tradeoff between genes that do organisms well when they are young vs. genes that would do them well when they are old. Known as antagonistic pleiotropy, by favoring genes that help an organism in its youth (or reproductive prime) at the expense of the organisms health as it gets older, it is thought that this allows the organism to better reproduce. It's kind of like the Greek myth of Achilles. Achilles forgoes "safe and boring" immortality for a brilliantly adventurous shorter life. There is a multitude of experimental evidence for antagonistic pleiotropy existing. At first glance, the layman might think a paradox exists because after you reproduce, "there is no evoluitionary stress to keep an organism alive." So why do some women live long past menopause? They can't have more children so why does evolution keep them around? The idea that reproduction is the only means to propogate genes is fallicious, for the following reason. If parents can help their children have children, they are helping propogate their own genes without actually having to have children themselves. Thus activities like parents giving their children money, or arranging marriages, etc. that favor their children in the evolutionary gene pool will result in the parents having more of their own genes in the entire gene pool. If parents have genes which predispose them to care for their offspring past their reproductive years, then these genes will allow their children to be more evolutionary competitive, thus increasing the concentration of genes coding for parental care in the gene pool. The competitive edge that parents can grant their children is proportional to the amount of time they are capable of caring for their children. Therefore, over time genes predisposing parents for both caring for their offspring and living longer (-ie. past their reproductive prime-) will increase in the gene pool. Thus, using these old tenets of evolutionary biology, I have explained why organisms living past reproduction is in no way a paradox, and no "new theory aging" is warranted. Update: this article is being syndicated more and more...